Neil & Grandma

Ah! Just as soon as (or ten days later, but that’s not the point) I publish my last blog, I’m watching “Whitney”, the sitcom with and by Whitney Cummings, and I hear this glorious line (badly misquoted, but that’s not the point, either):

Fluid Neil

You don’t have to be gay or straight, you’re just Neil… your sexuality is fluid… you fell in love with a person, not a gender.

How wonderful is this? Someone who, on primetime national television does not put people in boxes! (Especially by one’s sexuality.) How great is this? Doesn’t it feel like oxygen to your soul? Imagine if we did the same, not just with sexuality but with everything! We’re not young or old, black or white, gay or straight, we’re people who do things! (See my blog, Coffee or Tea?, even thought, this isn’t the point.)

And, yes, there are other glorious examples on primetime television of a more open-minded approach to human interactions, but can you imagine how different and, by my book, better life is without those labels/stigmas? (I intentionally used “is” instead of “would be”, even though this isn’t the point.)

The only downside (if we want to see it as a downside) is that the businesses that thrive on the negative impact of those judgments on our life and psyche would collapse. A few examples immediately come to mind:


  • No business for therapists and psychiatrists, (Freud would’ve smoked more cigars and written fewer books).
  • The pharmaceutical industry that produces pills and meds to patch holes in people’s self-worth would disappear.
  • No more cults, because self-assured, clear minded people would immediately say, “Are you nuts?” and walk away.
  • There would be no content for the majority of tabloid/gossip related print, radio and television. Many of the reality shows would be on the bubble and then cancelled.
  • There would’ve been no need for Oprah as we know it or her offspring (people and magazine, alike). Her career would’ve been tremendously different and now she’d have to rethink the concept of her network (oh, but, wait… ah, never mind, that’s not the point).
  • No more wars for God.
  • No more political campaigns based on party affiliation, judgment and differentiation, because it wouldn’t be about democrats or republicans, but it would be about the individual and his or her plan and accountability (just like Neil doesn’t fall in love with a gender but with a person).
  • People would be happier, with higher self-worth, less stress, they would lose less hair, eat less, drink less, get high less, be healthier, be less angry, sue other people less, kill themselves less, kill others less, marry better, divorce less, produce fewer children out of guilt or confusion or peer pressure.


And the list goes on, but you can see the tremendous impact on each country’s national economy.

And to those who are now judging me as a precarious individual who philosophizes based on a TV sitcom, let me just say that anything on primetime (including commercials) is a mirror of the large demographic it aims to. And demographic is just a marketing word for people, their thoughts and behaviors. So…

Another great story.

Pat Gallant-Charette sets swim records.

Pat Gallant-Charette sets swim records.

I’m writing a book (which, indeed is a great story, but it’s not the point of this second story). I’m doing research and stumbled upon a beautiful true story (which is the story that I want to talk about). It’s the true account of Pat Gallant-Charette, a grandmother from Maine, who works as a nurse 32 hours/week, babysits her grandchildren full-time and, as a life long passion, swims long distance.

Apparently, for marathon swimmers, the English Channel is the Mount Everest of swimming, and Pat had tried and failed, twice.

The two failed results didn’t dull her passion. She continued to swim. She continued to imagine swimming from England to France. When she asked her son (again, I’m horribly misquoting, but that’s not the point),

Do you think I could do it? You know, I wish I could do it.

Her son said,

Ma, you could do it, you know, if you tried.

And so Pat tried,
And she swam all across the 21 miles of the Strait of Dover,
in fifteen hours and fifty-seven seconds
and she became the oldest American woman to swim across the channel,
at the age of 60!

Now, you might say, Wow! And I’ll say, Hold on, baby, it ain’t over!

Pat fixed up her grandchildren with a sub-nanny, called in sick for her nursing job (I don’t know about these last two things, I’m just making stuff up, but, what follows is real) and she went on to swim an even wider channel, the Catalina Channel, between Catalina Island and the mainland of California, in October 2011, and she made it! At 60!
When asked, Why undertake such a huge risk? She answered,

You know, my mother’s eighty six, she swims three times a week, I still have many good years to go. It’s never too late to follow your dreams.

So, next time I’m wondering if I can do something and judgments and doubts throw my mind in that foggy state of non action, I’m going to remember these two stories and say to myself,

Even if Grandma turns gay, I’ll stay fluid like Neil, and swim!

No, wait, what? That’s not right, I got confused.

I’m going to say to myself, Self,

Who cares what others think or say? Who cares about judgments and labels? I can do it, if I try.

(And this is exactly the point.)

Peter Arpesella

Actor, writer, podcaster, painter, sailor, always loves a good laugh. Made in Italy, marketed in the US, sold worldwide.


  1. awesome! i want to marry this writer!

  2. Beautifully written and inspirational piece Peter. Reading this I want to marry you too, if you weren’t already taken. Yes many a truth is said in sit com.

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